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10/26/2021

Chopra speaks out on 'digital redlining'

At the joint Justice Department, OCC, and CFPB news conference on the Trustmark National Bank enforcement action on Friday, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said that the Bureau will be watching for "digital redlining, disguised through so-called neutral algorithms, that may reinforce the biases that have long existed." He continued, "Technology companies and financial institutions are amassing massive amounts of data and using it to make more and more decisions about our lives, including loan underwriting and advertising. While machines crunching numbers might seem capable of taking human bias out of the equation, that’s not what is happening....When consumers and regulators do not know how decisions are made by the algorithms, consumers are unable to participate in a fair and competitive market free from bias. Algorithms can help remove bias, but black box underwriting algorithms are not creating a more equal playing field and only exacerbate the biases fed into them."

Chopra added, "Given what we have seen in other contexts, the speed with which banks and lenders are turning lending and advertising decisions over to algorithms is concerning. Too many families were victimized by the robo-signing scandals from the last crisis, and we must not allow robo-discrimination to proliferate in a new crisis.

"We should never assume that algorithms will be free of bias. If we want to move toward a society where each of us has equal opportunities, we need to investigate whether discriminatory black box models are undermining that goal."

10/22/2021

Tech companies ordered to provide info to CFPB

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued a series of orders to collect information on the business practices of large technology companies operating payments systems in the United States. The information will help the CFPB better understand how these firms use personal payments data and manage data access to users so the Bureau can ensure adequate consumer protection.

The orders were issued pursuant to Section 1022(c)(4) of the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The CFPB has the statutory authority to order participants in the payments market to turn over information to help the Bureau monitor for risks to consumers and to publish aggregated findings that are in the public interest. The CFPB’s work is one of many efforts within the Federal Reserve System to make payments safer, faster, and more competitive. The initial orders were sent to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PayPal, and Square. The Bureau will also be studying the payment system practices of Chinese tech giants, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.

10/21/2021

FedNow Explorer announced

The Federal Reserve's FedNow Instant Payments group has announced the availability of the FedNow Explorer website, which provides a customized learning path with tools and content to meet the needs of those who want to learn more about the service. From instant payment basics and how the FedNow Service works to information about features, functionality and use cases, FedNow Explorer will offer the information and guidance needed to start getting ready for the future of instant payments. The Fed has confirmed the service will be available in 2023.

10/20/2021

FinCEN exceptive relief for casinos with online gambling

FinCEN announced on Tuesday it has granted limited exceptive relief in Ruling FIN-2021-R001 to casinos from certain customer identity verification requirements in the context of online gaming. Specifically, under the terms of this relief, a casino may utilize suitable non-documentary methods to verify the identity of online customers. The suitability or non-suitability of any particular method should be evaluated based on risk. This exceptive relief is effective as of October 19, 2021.

10/19/2021

IRS videoconferences now available to all large businesses

The IRS has announced that, beginning October 18, the IRS's large business division will accept all taxpayer requests to meet with IRS employees using secure videoconferencing. This step extends the practice used during the pandemic to accommodate taxpayers who sought more than meeting with an IRS employee over telephone calls.

A new guidance requires Large Business and International Division (LB&I) employees to grant large business taxpayer requests for a secure video meeting with IRS-approved platforms in lieu of an in-person or telephone discussion with a compliance function. It also includes the expanded use of secure email and the launch of a virtual reading room environment to enable large LB&I taxpayers and IRS agents to share certain privileged taxpayer documents in a read-only capacity. In addition, LB&I also launched and expanded its use of paperless processes so that cases can continue to move swiftly through examination and resolution.

10/18/2021

OCC releases FY2022 Bank Supervision Plan

The OCC has released its bank supervision operating plan for fiscal year 2022.The plan provides the foundation for policy initiatives and for supervisory strategies as applied to individual national banks, federal savings associations, federal branches, federal agencies, and technology service providers. OCC staff members use this plan to guide their supervisory priorities, planning, and resource allocations.

Supervisory strategies for FY 2022 will focus on—

  • strategic and operational planning to ensure banks maintain stable financial positions
  • credit risk management, allowances for loan and lease losses, and allowances for credit losses
  • cybersecurity and operational resilience
  • oversight of third parties and related concentrations
  • Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance management
  • consumer compliance management systems and fair lending risk
  • Community Reinvestment Act performance
  • the impact of a low-rate environment and the transition to alternative reference rates given the cessation of LIBOR
  • payment systems products and services
  • fintech partnerships for potential cryptocurrency-related activities and other services
  • climate change risk management

10/18/2021

Treasury continues campaign against ransomware

The Treasury Department on Friday announced that, building on OFAC's earlier designation of a virtual currency exchange for facilitating transactions for ransomware actors, additional steps have been taken to help the virtual currency industry prevent exploitation by sanctioned persons and other illicit actors. New industry-specific guidance outlines sanctions compliance best practices tailored to the unique risks posed in this dynamic space, while new data from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) shows the increasing threat ransomware posed to the U.S financial sector, businesses, and the public during the first half of 2021.

Treasury’s actions underscore the need for a collaborative approach to counter ransomware attacks, including public-private partnerships and close relationships with international partners. The private sector plays a key role by implementing appropriate sanctions and anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls to prevent sanctioned persons and other illicit actors from exploiting virtual currencies and undermining U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.

10/18/2021

FinCEN issues ransomware report

FinCEN has issued a financial trend analysis on ransomware trends in Bank Secrecy Act reports filed between January 2021 and June 2021. This report, issued pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, focuses on pattern and trend information pertaining to ransomware, in line with FinCEN’s issuance of government-wide priorities for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism policy.

10/18/2021

OFAC guidance for virtual currency industry

OFAC has posted a notice that it has published a brochure, "Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry," as a resource to help members of the virtual currency industry navigate and comply with OFAC sanctions. It provides an overview of OFAC sanctions requirements and procedures, including licensing and enforcement processes, and highlights sanctions compliance best practices tailored for the virtual currency industry.

10/15/2021

FedPayments Improvement blog on B2B payments

The Federal Reserve's FedPayments Improvement task force has posted a blog article, "A New Era: Modernizing B2B Payments," discussing the risk of leaving business-to-business payments behind in the movement toward faster payments. As the U.S. payments landscape rapidly evolves, consumer payments are increasingly being completed faster, but B2B payments processes are still fragmented, often requiring manual processing with multiple steps and the opportunity for error. This lack of digitalization makes B2B payments more prone to fraud and more costly than other payments.

The Federal Reserve is coordinating with the industry to propel B2B payments toward modernized, electronic solutions that reduce manual intervention. To catalyze this evolution, the Fed and Business Payments Coalition (BPC) have organized work groups dedicated to change: optimizing efficiency in electronic invoicing and remittance delivery. These work groups are on the front line of B2B payments modernization, and their work will drive innovation in the United States.

The article announces a new YouTube promotional video, the first in a three-part series, on how the Fed’s collaboration with the industry today will transform B2B payments tomorrow.

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